Mary Peabody Begins Sabbatical Adventures

For the next year, beginning October 1, 2014, WAgN Director Mary Peabody will be stepping back from day-to-day program delivery and management to focus more deeply on the areas of direct marketing and labor management as they impact small and medium-sized farms.

Mary Peabody

Women’s Agricultural Network Director Mary Peabody

“Specifically, I will be working on some new decision-making tools farmers can use to determine their optimal market mix and labor needs to attain their business goals,” she says. “One of the activities I’m looking forward to is the opportunity to talk with consumers about how their purchasing decisions have changed over time, the role of social media in their decision making, and what attributes of locally produced ag products are important to them.”

This year of study starts with the opportunity to attend the 2014 Slow Food Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto in Torino, Italy. This biennial event draws individuals from all over the world who are passionate about good, clean and fair food for the world’s largest food and wine fair, Salone del Gusto, and the concurrent world meeting of food communities, Terra Madre.

produce“Those that know my passion for farmers’ markets can probably guess how excited I am about this opportunity,” Mary says. 

If you’d like to follow Mary’s adventures in the coming year, keep an eye on her blog. She’ll also also be posting on WAgN’s social media sites.

“Having the gift of a year to focus on these areas of interest is a wonderful benefit of my work and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity,” Mary says. “But sabbaticals do leave holes that need to be filled. My leave would not happen without all of my fabulous UVM Extension co-workers, starting with Beth Holtzman and Heidi Krantz, who will be picking up many of my responsibilities during my absence.”

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Juggling Farm and Family?

Female farmers with children are wanted for interviews as part of a University of Vermont study on child care in farm families. kids potting soilFunded by a USDA-NIFA grant, this study is looking at the ways children impact a farm business and is intended to help develop policy that minimizes the challenges and maximizes the opportunities farm families face when making household-level decisions such as child care.

Emily Stengel, a graduate research assistant, will conduct interviews in November and December. picking beansThe interview can take place in your home or on your farm and will last about an hour and a half. All identities and personal information will be kept confidential.

In addition to individual interviews with farmers, the project hopes to conduct focus groups at conferences this winter, and to reach producers from Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

Interested? Please contact Emily directly at 717-669-1666 or

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New Guide to Renting Farmland

For many beginning farmers, leasing can be an affordable way to gain access to productive farmland and associated infrastructure and equipment. For landowners, leasing can help offset the costs of ownership while keeping farmland in production. But how to determine a fair rental rate?

farmscapeUVM Extension’s new How to Determine the Right Farm Rental Rate Guide was developed to support both farmers and landowners through the process of determining a fair cash rental rate for farmland, equipment and infrastructure in Vermont. The same methods might apply to other states in New England, the Northeast, or other parts of the U.S.

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